Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Inquest into Erik Scott's Death - Day 2

Those who want to read a blow-by-blow account of the second day of testimony in the coroner's inquest into the death of Erik Scott can check out the Las Vegas Sun's blog here. I'm just going to record my reactions below.

The District Attorney's office opened up today's testimony with another attack on Erik Scott's character, this time detailing an altercation that Scott had last March with a neighbor. Apparently, Scott pulled his gun on the neighbor when the neighbor's dog bit him.

I'm not sure what this testimony has to do with what happened on July 10th, except maybe to show that Erik Scott had a propensity to draw his weapon in confrontations. Then again, he had just been bitten by a dog! And one incident does not constitute a propensity.

Next came the first of the day's two most dramatic witnesses.

The Costco Wholesale employee who called the police took the stand. Identifying himself as a "loss prevention supervisor," he then related his entire interaction with Erik Scott on the day Scott died.

Again, in the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that I know Shai Lierley. I worked with him when I worked for Costco Wholesale, although I don't know him personally. In the couple of years I worked with Shai, I found him to be a competent and reliable colleague.

Having said that, I have many misgivings about how the interaction with Erik Scott was handled.

In the testimony thus far, it's been mentioned that Erik Scott was never actually asked to leave the store, and he was never actually told that he had to take his gun out of the store. He was merely told of Costco policy regarding firearms, and then everyone backed off.

Also, no one told Erik Scott that the police had been called.

In my experience, whenever I had to deal with a confrontational customer, backing off was a sign that the encounter with the customer was over (at least to the customer). Instead of leaving the situation like that, I engaged with the customer until they left the store, even if it meant that I ended up shopping with them and ringing them up myself. And in the few times I had to call the police (or at least threaten to) I told the member I was doing so, which usually served to defuse the situation, at least to a point where the threat of violence ended.

Now, I admit that I wasn't there, and thus I don't really know how dangerous and/or volatile Erik Scott appeared to the people who interacted with him. It was obviously a judgment call, and this is armchair quarterbacking. But I do find it odd that no one told Erik Scott that the police were waiting for him.

Of course, the replaying of the 911 call that Lierley made was very dramatic, serving to back up the sequence of events as related by Lierley's testimony.

The next few witnesses gave details relating to the missing Costco Wholesale surveillance video. I'm not going to buy into the conspiracy theories here. The work order to repair the system was made at least a day before Erik Scott ever set foot in Costco Wholesale, and the hard-drive in question clearly had no relevant data on it. Call me a Homer, but those are the facts.

Officer Mosher's testimony has been the most dramatic thus far. It seems clear that Mosher and his fellow officers followed established protocol when approaching a situation involving an armed and potentially dangerous suspect. They were acting on the information they'd been given.

And, if what Officer Mosher says is true, then it's hard to see how this inquest could end in anything other than a finding of justified (or at least excusable). If, as Mosher stated, Erik Scott took out his weapon and raised it towards the assembled officers, then they just followed their training in shooting him.

But who ordered the store evacuation?

Mosher's testimony continues tomorrow, as he answers questions posed by "interested parties" and read to him by the judge.

I have to end by once again mentioning Erik Scott's family. This whole situation is horrible wall-to-wall, but I sympathize with their impossible position. Their loved one died in a very public and questionable way, and they are stuck dealing with both the grief of their loss and the controversy surrounding it.

I'm not sure how well I would be able to handle what they're going through.

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